Let's face it: war sucks. Nowhere is this more true than in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a long-standing violent conflict has killed almost 4 million people, garnering it recognition as the world's most lethal conflict since World War II. But one company is attempting to change the situation by diverting and converting confiscated AK47 assault rifles -- efficient tools of death -- into glittering jewelry.
Fonderie 47 was founded by Peter Thum and John Zapolski in 2009 after a fateful meeting at a TED conference. Both were concerned about the existence of 20 million assault rifles in Africa, "cheap, abundant" instruments of violence which present a significant barrier to "all facets of development" and peace on the continent:
We decided to create something compelling and substantial in response -- to change what people believed was possible. Our belief has become Fonderie 47, a company dedicated to providing powerful means toward a stable and prosperous Africa free from the fear of assault rifles.
To achieve this conscious shift in the perception of these deadly weapons, Thum and Zapolski enlisted two master jewelers in the creation of Fonderie 47's beautifully crafted line of cufflinks (which can be assembled to form a bracelet), rings and earrings.
So far, the company has removed over 6,000 rifles from active use, writes Ecouterre:
Although Fonderie 47 is a for-profit venture, sales of the jewelry feed into the Fonderie 47 Foundation, a charity that finances nongovernmental organizations such as the Mines Advisory Group, which is tasked by Congo’s government to demolish the weapons. Plus, each piece funds the destruction of a specific number of assault AK-47s in Africa, Thum adds. A steel-and-gold signet ring, for example, finances the demolition of 75 guns, and comes etched with the serial number of the weapon it once was.
These intricate specimens don't come cheap though. But despite the $23,000 price tag for a pair of earrings or $35,000 for the cufflinks, we would do even better to remember the even higher cost of war.